By ZACH BRAZILLER
They dressed slowly and chatted with each other, not wanting to leave the field. When they did change and leave the field, they did so together, heads held high and conversation flowing, joined by James Curcio, the Lane baseball coach.
The Knights may have dropped their first league game of the year last Thursday afternoon 8-4 to host Long Island City, but they were far from beaten, rallying from a six-run deficit and bringing the tying run to the plate in the sixth inning.
“We battled back and that’s been our motto,” Curcio said. “Every game we’ve won so far, we’ve come from behind.”
It is that kind of fight that has Lane (3-1, Queens A West) off to its best start in the ‘A’ division since moving up seven years ago, just a game behind Queens A West leader John Adams. In a season-opening 5-3 victory over Newtown, Lane rallied for four runs in the final two frames; in the next victory, it scored three times in the sixth of a 6-5 win over Newtown. Behind star senior Michael Gonzalez, Lane bested LIC 2-1 April 6, the senior striking out eight and allowing two hits in a complete-game effort.
“I think we’re gonna be good this year,” Curcio said. “The kids are ecstatic about the start. We got a couple of quality pitchers.”
It trailed 6-0 after three frames last Thursday as No. 2 starter Heriberto Cabrera didn’t have his best stuff, yet the feisty Knights came storming back. Francisco Rojas drove in Gonzalez with a run-scoring single in the fourth, Giovanni Romero walked, stole two bases and scored on a passed ball and Gonzalez drove in another run with a ground-out in the fifth. They put runners on first and second in the sixth against LIC closer Edwin Saez, though Yoini Mejia and Romero struck out to end the threat.
Curcio pointed to his players’ experience for the fast start. Of the 19-man roster, eight are seniors, four of which played together as freshmen. They have been through the wars together, dealt with defeat and three frustrating seasons without playoff baseball.
“We’re like family now; we grew up together,” said Gonzalez, one of the four-year seniors. “We’re not scared of anybody. This feels good. It’s my senior year. I’m trying to make something happen. I’m trying to see the playoffs before I go to college.”